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Feigel, Sigi


FEIGEL, SIGI (1921–2004), Swiss Jewish community leader. Born into a Russian-Jewish family, Feigel grew up in the central Swiss Catholic village of Hergiswil (Nidwalden), isolated from any organized Jewish community. In his youth, he experienced much Catholic anti-Judaism. After serving in the Swiss army (1939–45), he studied law at Zurich University and graduated with a doctoral degree in law. He entered the textile firm of his father-in-law, serving as its director until 1977. He was president of the Jewish community of Zurich in 1972–86, initiating a program of lectures by prominent figures and thus getting the Jewish community much publicity. Among the lecturers were Bruno *Kreisky, Axel Springer, and Willy *Brandt. He fought for the enlargement of the Jewish Oberer Friesenberg cemetery in Zurich, meeting opposition in right-wing circles. As a prominent media figure, he helped win popular support for the Anti-Racism Law (1993). With his colleague Rolf *Bloch, he tried to mediate between American-Jewish demands and Swiss politicians and bankers in the 1995–96 Swiss bank account affair. He seems to have coined the phrase, "Justice for the victims, fairness for Switzerland." He founded several foundations to fight racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism, and for the housing of homeless young people. He also initiated the re-writing of textbooks on Jewish history and religion in Switzerland. After selling the textile firm (1977), he returned to law studies and received the Zurich lawyer's diploma at the age of 62. He wrote the standard commentary on the Swiss Anti-Racism Law. The Jewish community chose him as its honorary president.


K. Obermueller, Schweizer auf Bewaehrung (1998); Antisemitismus: Umgang mit einer Herausforderung: Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag (1991); S. Feigel, Der Erziehungszweck im schweiz. Strafvollzug (1949).

[Uri Kaufmann (2nd ed.)]

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